MYSTERY WIRE — Over the last couple of years, the tech world has been touting the advantages of having a new 5G network. Now, some of the same tech companies are rushing to make sure their newly installed 5G towers are not vandalized by people who believe COVID-19 was caused by radiation coming form the 5G towers.
Just over the last week, NPR reports fires on at least three towers in the United Kingdom (UK). In at least two instances, videos and online posts are raising concerns that the attacks may be linked to conspiracy theories that cast 5G networks as the actual cause of COVID-19.
According to a BBC report, the government says there is no evidence of a link between at least two of the fires. Also in the UK, The Guradian is reporting the media regulator, Ofcom, said on Thursday it was monitoring broadcasters who spread the discredited conspiracy theory, although coverage has spread more widely on social networks, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.
While this has not been seen in the United States, it is being reported on by several major publications. Fortune recently wrote, 5G is being rolled out by all four U.K. mobile carriers: BT Group Plc, Vodafone Group Plc, Telefonica SA’s O2, and CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s Three U.K. Counter-terrorism police are investigating, according to Vodafone U.K.’s chief executive officer, Nick Jeffery. The incidents prompted the networks to denounce the acts in a joint statement on Sunday, while Britain’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted that criminal acts inspired by “crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online” will “face the full force of the law.”
While the British government isn’t taking the theory seriously, it is taking threats about any virus related conspiracies seriously. The government created a special unit to combat misinformation about the virus, and says it’s pressing social media companies “for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumors which could cost lives.”
Actor Woody Harrelson shared the theory on his Instagram account last week.
Another reason some people are linking 5G and the outbreak of the coronavirus is location. The debunking website called fullfact.org summarized it this way, Wuhan was one of the first places with 5G trials, as well as several other large Chinese cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou but we don’t know if it was the first.
One of the original places the theory was posed was on Facebook. The original post has now been removed. Facebook says it is removing posts and groups that encourage attacks on 5G towers.
BBC reports that YouTubeis also banning some debunked videos about Covid-19, but classes conspiracy theories linking the virus to 5G as “borderline content”.
And a Google spokeswoman told BBC it intended to “evaluate the impact.” Google did remove one video flagged by the BBC that featured threatening language.
Over on snopes.com, a favorite and trusted site with one mission to either prove or disproves stories being passed around, is reporting on some of this. But the theory that 5G led to COVID-19 isn’t the only conspiracy theory out there. When you search “coronavirus” on snopes you get at least 50 results on vaccines to tests to political theories.